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Robert Southey

(1774 - 1843 / Bristol / England)

Birth-Day Ode 02


Small is the new-born plant scarce seen
Amid the soft encircling green,
Where yonder budding acorn rears,
Just o'er the waving grass, its tender head:
Slow pass along the train of years,
And on the growing plant, their dews and showers they shed.
Anon it rears aloft its giant form,
And spreads its broad-brown arms to meet the storm.
Beneath its boughs far shadowing o'er the plain,
From summer suns, repair the grateful village train.

Nor BEDFORD will my friend survey
The book of Nature with unheeding eye;
For never beams the rising orb of day,
For never dimly dies the refluent ray,
But as the moralizer marks the sky,
He broods with strange delight upon futurity.

And we must muse my friend! maturer years
Arise, and other Hopes and other Fears,
For we have past the pleasant plains of Youth.
Oh pleasant plains! that we might stray
For ever o'er your faery ground--
For ever roam your vales around,
Nor onward tempt the dangerous way--
For oh--what numerous foes assail
The Traveller, from that chearful vale!

With toil and heaviness opprest
Seek not the flowery bank for rest,
Tho' there the bowering woodbine spread
Its fragrant shelter o'er thy head,
Tho' Zephyr there should linger long
To hear the sky-lark's wildly-warbled song,
There heedless Youth shalt thou awake
The vengeance of the coiling snake!

Tho' fairly smiles the vernal mead
To tempt thy pilgrim feet, proceed
Hold on thy steady course aright,
Else shalt thou wandering o'er the pathless plain,
When damp and dark descends the night
Shivering and shelterless, repent in vain.

And yet--tho' Dangers lurk on every side
Receive not WORLDLY WISDOM for thy guide!
Beneath his care thou wilt not know
The throb of unavailing woe,
No tear shall tremble in thine eye
Thy breast shall struggle with no sigh,
He will security impart,
But he will apathize thy heart!

Ah no!
Fly Fly that fatal foe,
Virtue shall shrink from his torpedo grasp--
For not more fatal thro' the Wretches veins
Benumb'd in Death's cold pains
Creeps the chill poison of the deadly asp.

Serener joys my friend await
Maturer manhood's steady state.
The wild brook bursting from its source
Meanders on its early course,
Delighting there with winding way
Amid the vernal vale to stray,
Emerging thence more widely spread
It foams along its craggy bed,
And shatter'd with the mighty shock
Rushes from the giddy rock--
Hurl'd headlong o'er the dangerous steep
On runs the current to the deep,
And gathering waters as it goes
Serene and calm the river flows,
Diffuses plenty o'er the smiling coast,
Rolls on its stately waves and is in ocean lost.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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